Everything Isn’t Going To Be OK

I have a life mantra, a simple phrase that encodes and distills my own personal philosophy and a guideline for how I live my life. Many of us do, a sort of inspirational and motivational quote we pin on the corkboards of our hearts, something we turn to in times both dark and light. Most of those mantras came from wise and revered people, like Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, or Michelle Obama, or Mark Twain, or Dorothy Parker, or someone considered to be deep and learned or witty. Thinkers, philosophers, the lights of the human spirit.

My life’s philosophy comes from a terrible head coach of the Washington Redskins, a man unprepared and ill-equipped to run a team of people who run around and play for a living while sacrificing their physical and mental health for entertainment. A man who is little-remembered for good reason, and certainly isn’t wise, not even in a football sense. The saying that I hold as my guidepost to surviving life was espoused by a man whose signature playcall for the sportsball team I follow was this:

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My guru is Jim Zorn.

You probably have no idea who he is, and there’s no reason why you should. He isn’t important. Well, I’m sure he is to his family and loved ones, and certainly more important in a human impact sense than I am, but Michelle Obama he ain’t. I’ll always respect him in one regard, and that’s because he’s kept me sane over the last few years, or at least his philosophy has. It’s simple, but I try to follow it, and it is this:

Stay Medium.

It’s simple, but it means this: Don’t let yourself get deluded by your successes, because that leads to an inability to recognize that you might fail. Don’t let yourself get too down by failure, because that leads to despair. Neither one of them will help get things done. Don’t let yourself get too high, nor too low. Stay medium. Be mentally ready for both joy and heartache, because being blindsided isn’t fun.

Like most life mantras, it’s complete bullshit, but hey, we all need something to get through the day.

As did the majority of Americans who actually voted, I preferred the candidate in this election who lost. Hindsight shows us how it happened, as it always unhelpfully does, and there is a lot of blame to go around. I believe the main reason this happened is because we have something in this country we refer to as the Rust Belt, because it was once prosperous and gave a lot of people jobs they could fashion a nice lifestyle around. It’s not anymore, obviously, and both Democrats and Republicans share the blame for it happening and for not addressing the problem before it came to this. And this turned out to be a bloviating dangerously incompetent know-nothing sexist race-baiting narcissistic self-professed billionaire who lied about almost everything he said becoming – ugh, I can’t even write it. The reason why is because he told them he would fix it. He gave them hope where the mainstream politicians, both conservative and liberal, did not. They came out and they voted for him, and he won, to my own disgust and despair.

This will have tremendous negative repercussions for decades to come for a lot of people, and possibly everyone. I truly fear for the future of this country. Everything isn’t going to be all right, because everything is too much to hope for. But I have to get up, every day, and face the world not based on what I want or wish for, but the one that is. I’m lucky to have a job and I’ll continue to go to it. I’ll force myself to smile at people and appear happy when I’m not feeling it. But I will also take pleasure and pride and joy in the people and things I love, and – sad for the world of literature at large – I will keep writing inane things about things that don’t matter, because I want to, and because they make me happy, and – most especially – when someone tells me that something I wrote made them laugh or helped them kill some otherwise boring time or made them feel something I didn’t know I could affect.

I had no heart to write anything after Tuesday night, which is a bad thing when trying to do NaNoWriMo. I hurt too much to write a story about zombies eating people and destroying a nation when I watched this country elect someone patently unsuited for any job, let alone the one he got. I couldn’t fathom writing noir fan fic in the face of this. I couldn’t imagine doing this thing that I’m doing, right now, writing a shitty blog post with a framing device centered around a philosophy from a bad football coach. But here we are, and here I am, doing it.

The only reason I can is because I’m Staying Medium. I hurt, I despair, I’m angry. But I’m functioning. I’m able to because I still woke up next to my wife Wednesday morning, and I could still hold her hand and feel safe and loved. I still have my dogs to insist on waking me up ten minutes before I need to because they decided it’s time to wake up. I still have my friends, who grieve with me and worry like I do – most of them, anyway. I still have hope in my heart, because once you lose hope you lose everything that makes you human and to strive for the things that are good and right.

I’m writing this today because of a comment I read this morning, on my own blog. Here’s part of it:

I hope you don’t stop writing… and I’m not saying this to make you feel like you have some burden and/or moral obligation to an audience seeking joy in moments of despair. I want you to write for you (I think it’s apparent you already do).

Being open about your vulnerabilities, and brave enough to “push publish” weirdly gives me hope, even more than the pathetic attempts of some “inspirational” v-logs that speak directly to the outcome of the election and how everything will be okay in spite of it – all the more reason to escape into fantastical worlds, am I right? Hehe.

My faith in humanity is no longer at its lowest point… so, thank you!

I didn’t cry Tuesday night despite how sad and sick I felt, but I cried this morning when I read this comment. I always cry more when I’m reminded how amazing people can be, and kind, and loving, and hopeful. I’ve cried more in the last year and a half or so because of the love I feel for people and less about the terrible things that have happened to me and the people I love. I for-real cried through more than half my wedding and reception last year. The beauty of the human spirit never fails to bring it out. This person took time out of her day to let me know that my writing helped her regain some faith in humanity, and if there is a higher honor in authorship than that I don’t give a fuck. I don’t need a Nobel, or Hugo, or any of that shit. I won the Restored Some Portion of Faith in Humanity in Someone by Writing Bad Blog Posts award, and that means more than commercial success or pretty ribbons or being in Oprah’s Book Club.

On Wednesday, in the middle of my depression, my wife and I got wonderful news about the IVF process we’re going through, something that will let us take the next step towards something we’re both fighting for despite everything life has tried to put in the way. I felt excitement and joy in my heart again, because I somehow managed to stay medium despite the shitstorm all around us. Life is up and down so fast and so hard sometimes it’ll break your neck. Staying medium is how I stay on the roller coaster.

I don’t even really know, in the end, what I’m trying to say here, other than a Thank You to the people who make my life better in ways large and small. I guess it’s just to say this: you aren’t alone. Things will get better, even if everything isn’t going to be OK. We’ll get through this together. It’s easier to appreciate the light when you’ve had to venture through the dark. Sometimes we need to fight for the things we love, especially when they are threatened. Love the people you care about and be there for them. Don’t forget that, despite what it feels like, the human spirit is still capable of boundless beauty, not just ugly hate.

Also more maudlin crap like that. Just fucking stay medium out there, people. Sometimes it’s all we can do.

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Courtesy of the Brothers Mottram

About Alan Edwards

An indie writer who does accounting full-time on the side.

Posted on November 10, 2016, in Philosophizin', Self Reflection and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. LOL! I love the title.

    I’m not going to lie… you got me nervous with your “I hope you still feel that way when I finish writing the one that’ll be up soon! Because it really is your fault” comment. You almost made me cry at work this time. (Fine, I’m lying… maybe my eyes got a little glossy).

    ❤ I'm proud and don't regret a thing.

  2. We NEED people like you right now more than ever. We need the hope and the laughter, the distractions of a story well told, and to know that we are not alone. Waking up the day after, it was like waking up to a different world. Everything looked different. I side eyed all my neighbors and wondered if they supported him. My ears were ringing and I felt like a different person from the previous day. I guess I am in the grief/anger stage. I thought the hatred and everything else he spewed would not win. But it did. I am pissed as hell. Seeing the KKK out in full force yesterday and the assaults on Muslims that have occurred since are horrifying. This is the new United States. But, you know what, they will not scare those of us who believe in equality and basic human kindness. And those people asking for us to all unite now and be a country can fuck off. Ain’t gonna happen. I will never unite with people who voted for a racist, con-man, bigot, who is going to take us back a hundred years. Never. I will fight, and I will be angry, and if I know anybody who voted for him they can stay the fuck away from me and my kids. You voted for hate, and hate is not welcome here. That is why we need people like you to write now more than ever before. We need to know we are not alone, we need to know that someone else is feeling our anger and our pain. We need somebody to make us laugh or tell us a good zombie story. I look forward to you doing a funny as hell post about his cabinet: Palin, Ghouliani, Christie, Gingrinch, and god knows who else. Anyway, I will stay Medium, perhaps an angry Medium, but that works for me (the fucking Vikings aren’t helping with this). Congrats on your IVF news. 🙂

    • You exactly described my day yesterday. Just an eerie hollowness where everything seemed like a surreal and terrible dream. I’m certainly am also in the grief/anger stage and I have no intention of moving to acceptance until his misogynist racist ass is out of the White House. Anyone who thinks they have a mandate to threaten or destroy the people I love is going to learn a harsh lesson.

      Thank you, so incredibly much, for your words and for taking the time to put them here. I’ll keep writing, because you and others ask me to, and I really can’t help in any case. I am not the writer we need, nor am I the one we deserve, but I’m gonna keep doing it anyway.

      Oh! And don’t our teams play each other this weekend? I wish you guys the best of luck. At least in that case, winning and losing aren’t very high stakes.

  3. You’re the Man, Alan. Stay Medium, Brother!

    • You too, man. And I’m pretty sure I have a tag on my blog that says that you, sir, are the coolest man in the world, making you The Man.

  1. Pingback: Welcome to 2017 | Me and My Shovel

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